Priscilla Kaita

Outstanding Student in Biology Award

Begun in 2007-08, the Outstanding Student in Biology Award is presented each spring to the most outstanding senior majoring in Biology, with either a Cell Biology or Organismal Biology emphasis. The selection of the awardee is made by the Biology faculty, based on scholarship, integrity, professionalism, and potential for success in the field of biology.

About the Recipient

Priscilla practically “lived” in our department! If we needed help, or if anyone else did, she was there.

Where are you from?

Miami, Florida

What do you do for fun?

I am always hunting for my next geeky T-shirt. I enjoy going to comic-con (all the -cons, really) and air shows. Making science memes that aren’t funny to anyone besides science majors is a go-to when I see someone that could use a smile. I also binge-watch full seasons of missed tv shows because Netflix knows I have zero self-control.

Do you have any study hints for other Biology students?

Studying is a continual process not a pre-defined partition of time. On a few occasions I waited until the last minute to study and did not do as well as I could have. I was most successful when I consistently reviewed class material while staying actively engaged in trying to understanding the content. Recording lectures and listening to them later was extremely helpful because so much was missed when I was taking notes. Listening to the same sentence twice can be the difference between simply hearing the words and gaining a deeper understanding of the content.

What are your future plans/dreams after leaving UMHB?

My dream is to work for Space-X and be a part of the team of scientists working toward sustainable life on other planets. Elon Musk needs my innovation.

Any thoughts/comments?

“Science and religion, religion and science, put it as it may, they are the two sides of the same glass, through which we see darkly until these two focus together, reveal the truth.” – Pearl S. Buck


Anne Lucas

Dr. Sally A. Provence Presidential Endowed Scholarship

Established by the estate of Dr. Sally A. Provence, Class of 1937, from New Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Provence, nationally known in the field of pediatrics, was a faculty member for more than 30 years at Yale University in the Department of Pediatrics and the Yale Child Study Center. This scholarship is to be awarded to junior or senior students with a major in biology or chemistry leading to a pre-med qualification. This award is split with the Department of Chemistry. The student recipient in Biology is chosen by the chairperson of the Biology Department based on these criteria.

Where are you from?

I was born in Austin, but most of my life has been spent in a small town, Hutto, Texas.

What do you do for fun?

My favorite things to do in my spare time include: watching YouTube, drawing, hanging out with friends, and exercising.

Do you have any study hints for other Biology students?

The classroom can be a fast-paced environment when it comes to writing down what the teacher is saying, so my greatest advice would be to always, always, rewrite your notes!

What are your future plans/dreams after leaving UMHB?

It’s been my goal to one day become a plastic surgeon and own my own private practice.

Any thoughts/comments?

Go CRU!


Dominic Palesch

Ola Joyce Springer Hander/Lucile Capt Endowed Scholarship

This endowed scholarship was established from the estate of Ola Joyce Springer Hander, Class of 1952, of Paris, Arkansas. The scholarship was established to assist and encourage students in biology and biology-related fields. These funds will enable students to continue their education and may be used for tuition and/or books. Financial need and academic achievement are major considerations for the awarding of this scholarship. The student recipient is chosen by the chairperson of the Biology Department based on these criteria.

Where are you from?

A small town called Dreieich right outside the city of Frankfurt, Germany

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy hanging out with friends, watching (too many) movies and TV shows, eating some good food, reading an engaging book, playing video games, and watching soccer (or as I like to call it: the real football).

Do you have any study hints for other Biology students?

The most important bit of advice I could give is making sure that, while attending a class physically, you’re equally as present mentally. In addition, find some friends to study with–teaching others is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to become truly familiar with a subject. Lastly, talk to your professors if you need something cleared up. You are spending your time and money on these classes anyway, so you may as well make full use of the resources at your disposal.

What are your future plans/dreams after leaving UMHB?

While I am not yet 100% certain of what my future has in store for me, I have a general idea. I would love to stay in the US in order to pursue a graduate degree in Biology. I am currently working on figuring out the details, and I’m confident I will be able to achieve my goals with the overwhelming support that my family, friends, professors, and advisers have given me.

Any thoughts/comments?

It is a great honor to have been chosen as the recipient of this award out of the many gifted and hard-working students that call our wonderful Biology department their home. I have enjoyed these last three years at UMHB immensely, and I want to thank my professors and classmates for having been such an integral part of my experience here, which has been all-around enjoyable, engaging, and challenging–allowing me to grow both intellectually and as a person.


Elissa Freberg

Genetics Award

Presented annually to the most outstanding student in genetics. This award is sponsored by the UMHB Biology Department and the selection of awardees is made on the basis of combined academic performance in lecture and lab.

Where are you from?

Friendswood, TX

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy playing soccer, spending time with friends, and traveling as much as possible. When I’m not in class or at soccer practice, you can find me in Waco or Austin at coffee shops or food trucks.

Do you have any study hints for other Biology students?

If there are online lecture videos, actually watch them and take notes; it helps a lot. Also, even when attendance isn’t a grade, show up sometimes anyway because taking notes from lectures is much easier than reading the whole book.

What are your future plans/dreams after leaving UMHB?

I plan on attending either medical school or dental school to become some kind of doctor or an orthodontist, but I haven’t figured out which one yet.

Any thoughts/comments?

I am honored to have been noticed for my hard work, and I am truly blessed to have had support academically through my professors, family, and friends.


The Department of Biology will prepare students for career success and leadership in the life sciences, strengthen the abilities of students to engage in critical thinking through the process of scientific investigation, and prepare students to apply faith-based discernment in contemporary social and ethical issues related to biology. Learn more about the Biology Department.